What are House Churches?
What sort of churches meet in homes deliberately? Home based churches that are a bit (or a long way) outside the ‘box’ … hence the name ‘Edge‘. Actually, they’re a bunch of people who (hopefully) think and live outside the box – being the church in their community.
What are they called in New Zealand – house churches, home churches, micro churches, organic churches, simple churches, emerging churches, liquid churches, street churches, XYZ churches, edge churches…whatever label you like.
What are they like? There’s a wide variety but they often don’t have a church building (they usually meet in a house), professional clergy or paid staff.
Are we a formal network? No, definitely not, but we want to encourage the exploration and development of alternative ways to ‘be church’ (not ‘do church’) hence you’ll find links here to all sorts of groups / churches / networks / websites etc. We use the term ‘network’ in a very loose, non-structured, informal way (if you have any ideas for better words to use, let us know)
Apostolic churches? Yes, hopefully cutting edge, sent out, breaking new ground – real apostolic stuff (with a little ‘a’).
Missional communities? Yes, hopefully – if they aren’t, we are probably wasting our time…
Do we endorse all the house churches we link to? No and yes. We can’t endorse something we don’t know well, but we haven’t heard anything bad about them, so as far as we know they’re okay.
Are house churches safe? Hopefully, but the only way to be sure with any church is to check them out, use your wisdom, talk to other people and compare them with what you learn from the Bible. There is a wide variety of house churches out there – you might like some and dislike others.
How ’emerged’ are we? Not very far at all – but we’re having fun on the journey!
House Church – a good definition from Wikipedia
House church is an informal term for a group of Christians gathering regularly or spontaneously in a home instead of a building dedicated to the purpose. Another term with the same meaning is “home church”.
Some groups meet like this because they lack a conventional church building; but these are not normally regarded as house churches. Others meet in homes because they prefer to meet informally, or because they believe meeting in a home is the true pattern set in the first century and intended by Christ. Some, perhaps, meet in homes for several of these reasons.
House churches should not be confused with cell churches. A house church is not normally part of a larger, overseeing organization, although the group may associate informally with other Christians and house churches in networks reflecting equality rather than hierarchy. Those who meet in house churches regard themselves as belonging to the worldwide Church, but are self-governing and independent, generally without formal relationships with established “institutional” churches.
Some house churches have a conventional leadership structure, others have none. A commonly held belief in the modern day house church “movement” is that the Protestant Reformation did not go far enough to demonstrate a New Testament belief in the “priesthood of all believers” and that Jesus Christ alone is the Head of the Church which is the body of Christ. This movement has been gaining momentum worldwide in both industrialized countries such as Australia, Germany, the UK and the USA, and in third world countries.
The absence of hierarchical leadership structures in many house churches, while often viewed by the Protestant church at large as a sign of anarchy or rebelliousness to authority, is actually viewed by many in the house church movement to be the most viable way to come under true spiritual authority of love, relationships, and the visible dominion of Jesus Christ as Head of His own bride. Some within the house church “movement” therefore consider the term house church to be a misnomer, because the main issue within people who practice their faith in this manner is not the house but more the type of meeting that takes place; other titles which are sometimes used to describe this movement more functionally are “simple church”, “relational church”, “primitive church”, “bodylife”, “organic church” and similar terms.
The house church movement also owes much of its networking and exchange of information to the use of the internet; HC is generally used as an abbreviation for ‘House Church’ and IC is used to designate “Institutional Church” which is the generalized term for more traditional church structures, including a church building and/or sermon-centered church services led by a pastor or minister.
As a rule, house church gatherings are free, informal, and sometimes include a shared meal. Participants hope that everyone present will feel free to contribute to the gathering as and when they sense the leading of the Holy Spirit to do so. Leadership structures range from no official leaders, to a plurality of appointed elders; however, there is a deliberate attempt within most house churches to minimize the leadership of any one person, and so having one pastor or leading elder is generally frowned upon, in favor of a more plural responsibility of leadership diffused over several people or the members as a whole.
So What Do We Believe In?
- Mission – we want to be effective in seeing people come into relationship with Jesus and become disciples
- Discipleship – growth only comes as people enter God’s kingdom and become disciples of Jesus
- Planting ‘churches’ that are relevant & ‘effective’
- The Bible is accurate and authoritative in our lives and churches
- Rethinking what it means to ‘be the church’
- Reviewing our lives … to see how much we are influenced by God, and how much is extra stuff added through christian/church culture, western culture, societal expectations and so on
- Healthy dialogue – as we try to figure out how to follow Jesus
- Remember the poor (Gal 2:10)
Top Ten Reasons for Planting House Churches
The following is taken from “The Global House Church Movement” by Rad Zdero
- Biblical – This was the normative New Testament pattern established by Jesus and the apostles and perpetuated by the early church of the first three centuries and in subsequent renewal, reform and revival movements throughout history. (Acts 2:46, 5:42, 20:20)
- Exponential – To reach a growing world, we need to multiply, not just add. Current house church movements worldwide are outstripping more traditional church planting and church growth efforts.
- Effective – The most effective method of evangelism is not growing existing churches, but planting new ones. House churches are the most easily reproducible form of church, and hence, are the most obvious choice for church planting.
- Natural – House churches become part of the local community and easily tap into relationship connections, thereby more readily taking on an indigenous flavour.
- People-Focused – They focus on relationships and the development of people spiritually, not on executing programs or projects.
- Efficient – They are more mobile, flexible, and adaptable than conventional churches, especially in areas characterized by persecution and poverty.
- Equal Opportunity – Because of their small, intimate and participatory nature, all believers have the opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts during church meetings, and not just professional clergy or key leaders.
- Unbounded – They are not limited by church buildings. Whatever use buildings may or may not have, history shows that they are not necessary for rapid church planting movements to start; in fact, they may be a hindrance. Although church buildings are not evil by any means, nor are homes in any way magical, the practical release of time, energy and money away from building maintenance, and into evangelism and discipleship, should cause us to rethink current practices.
- Inexpensive – They are less expensive than traditional church, because no expensive buildings, programs, or professional clergy are required.
- Immediate – It can start now, right in your living room. There is no need to wait for a gym to be rented or for a building program to be completed to begin a new church or for a full-time pastor to be hired.
Who Are We?
This site is currently maintained by Mark Shotbolt who runs a home church in Botany with his wife Anne. This house church site was originally started by David and Margaret Allis, who ran a missional house church in Devonport Auckland until mid 2016.
We hope this site will serve the emerging missional church (house, home, micro, organic, simple ) in New Zealand.